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March 12, 2024 (Philippine time)

His Excellency, Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo
Heads of Governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening.
First of all, I would like to congratulate my co-host Ambassador Lagdameo, the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, for judiciously leading today’s meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women.

I am deeply honored to address you tonight as Head of the Philippine Delegation. I am from a small city called Marawi in Mindanao where girls had difficulty accessing education, and women lacked access to health care, jobs, and other opportunities. So while I also proudly stand before you today as the only Filipina Muslim in the Cabinet and the only female member of the Philippine Economic Team, I also stand here representing all the women in the Philippines, and the world, whose rights we must protect and promote.

It is also a privilege for me to continue the mission of the great women who walked this path before me.

- In 1948, during the drafting of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, the Philippines already strongly advocated for equality between men and women;

- In 1979, at the 34th session of the UN General Assembly, the Philippines—a Filipino diplomat and senator—prepared the zero draft of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The Philippines, alongside your countries, pushed for this treaty to be adopted;

- CSW serves as a platform for us to be visionaries. At CSW55 in 2011, the Philippines called for the adoption of a resolution that mainstreamed the gender agenda in climate change policies and strategies and the recognition of the differentiated impact of environmental crises, at a time when these issues were still far from mainstream consciousness; and

- CSW impels us to reach consensus through the power of dialogue. At CSW57, the Philippines chaired the negotiations on the Agreed Conclusion which focused on eliminating violence and discrimination against women and girls. This was a significant achievement because ten years prior, the Commission failed to come to a consensus on the same theme.

In the next two weeks, we will reaffirm the power of multilateralism—global voices to bring hope, change, and impact for women and girls in every corner of the world. We are at a crucial juncture.

Almost 30 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, our world is facing multiple, converging crises. Skyrocketing cost-of-living across the globe, food insecurity, violent conflicts, a rollback in human rights and democracy, the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change, among others, pose significant challenges for women all over the world. Care work remains undervalued and unequally distributed. Violence against women, sexual harassment, and systemic discrimination continue to undermine women’s ability to fully participate in society.

This year’s theme highlights how women’s poverty hinders the full realization of gender equality, and how stronger institutions and financing with a gendered perspective can address this.

This thematic focus aligns well with the Philippines’ implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender-responsive budgeting, as mandated in national laws such as Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, as well as our national strategies, including the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Plan for 2019-2025.

Accordingly, we place high priority on the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women, inclusivity, respect for human rights, and innovation. Allow me to highlight some of our key programs that strengthen institutions and financing for Women.

In 1995, we introduced the “Women’s Budget” or the Gender and Development Budget in our General Appropriations Act, which defines the annual expenditure program of the government. This policy directs all government departments and agencies to allocate a minimum of five percent of their total annual budgets for gender programs, projects, and activities.

The Philippines, being one of the eight founding members of the Open Government Partnership or OGP, remains deeply committed to transparency, accountability, inclusivity, and civic participation. We just finished our 6th National Action Plan which seeks to improve the responsiveness of our public institutions to the needs of our citizens through public participation and achieve transparency in the use of government resources.

We are also working hand in hand with civil society to achieve gender equality and women empowerment. Most recently, we have broadened the Philippine OGP Steering Committee Membership to include a seat for a women’s sector representative to ensure the integration of the perspectives and voices of women in open government initiatives. And even better, she is now my Co-Chair for Civil Society.

In the area of peace and security, the Philippines steadfastly champions the full and meaningful participation of women. In the video address that we just saw, President Marcos paid tribute to our valiant female revolutionaries who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in our struggle for independence.

As a proud daughter of Mindanao in southern Philippines and Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Body, representing the National Government in continuous dialogue with the ministers of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the participation of women in peace and security efforts, especially in Mindanao, means a lot to me.

As we work hard to ensure lasting peace and economic development in BARMM, it is worthwhile to look back and note that the peace efforts achieved success because of the participation of women.

In one of the rarest feats anywhere in the world, the government negotiating team was led by a woman, Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer. As we mark the tenth anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro this coming March 27, we also celebrate the Bangsamoro Women Commission, established through the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which integrates gender initiatives into the Region’s Priority Agenda. This is the vehicle by which we will ensure the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in decision-making at all levels of governance in BARMM.

Taking forward the Philippines’ commitment to the global Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, I am proud to announce that the Philippines will host an International Conference on Women, Peace, and Security in Manila in October of this year.

In light of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 next year, this conference in Manila will serve as an international stocktaking on the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda and

will highlight the power of inter-regional networks for sharing experiences, expertise and best practices in addressing challenges to meaningful engagement of women in peacebuilding. I invite your countries to participate in this conference.

With our stewardship of the peace in Mindanao, which offers lessons for inclusive peacemaking, and our role as a bridgebuilder in various multilateral fora, the Philippines will sustain its commitment as a pathfinder, partner, and peacemaker in the global community.

Our unwavering commitment to multilateralism is fully expressed in our bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2027-2028, which President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. declared in his address before the General Assembly in September 2022. Once elected, we will serve our duty with a deep dedication to a peaceful, just, and equitable international order that is key to the flourishing of each of our nation’s aspirations for our peoples.

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

Our gathering this evening sends a powerful signal about our profound dedication to women.

We invite all member states and stakeholders to participate in constructive dialogue and foster collaboration for synergy and impact. Our goal is to emerge with agreed conclusions and concrete actions that will propel us forward in achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls across the world.

Thank you and Mabuhay!

Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.